These are human stem cells growing on the 'fiber-on-fiber' culturing matrix. Image: Kyoto University iCeMS.
These are human stem cells growing on the 'fiber-on-fiber' culturing matrix. Image: Kyoto University iCeMS.

A new nanofiber-on-microfiber matrix could help produce more and better quality stem cells for disease treatment and regenerative therapies. Made of gelatin nanofibers on a synthetic polymer microfiber mesh, the matrix could provide a better way to culture large quantities of healthy human stem cells.

Developed by a team of researchers led by Ken-ichiro Kamei at Kyoto University's Institute for Integrated Cell-Material Sciences (iCeMS) in Japan, the 'fiber-on-fiber' (FF) matrix improves on currently available stem cell culturing techniques.

Over the past few years, researchers have been developing three-dimensional (3D) culturing systems to allow human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) to grow and interact with their surroundings in all three dimensions, as they would inside the human body. Rather than just growing in the two dimensions available with a petri dish. Pluripotent stem cells have the ability to differentiate into any type of adult cell and have huge potential for use in tissue regeneration therapies and treating diseases, as well as for research purposes.

Most currently-reported 3D culturing systems have limitations, however, and so result in low quantities of poor quality cultured cells. As an alternative system, Kamei and his colleagues fabricated gelatin nanofibers onto a microfiber sheet made of synthetic, biodegradable polyglycolic acid, and then seeded human embryonic stem cells onto the matrix in a cell culture medium.

The FF matrix allowed easy exchange of growth factors and supplements from the culture medium to the cells. Also, the stem cells adhered well to the matrix, resulting in robust cell growth: after four days of culturing, more than 95% of the cells grew and formed colonies.

The team also scaled up the process by designing a gas-permeable cell culture bag in which they placed multiple cell-loaded, folded FF matrices. The system was designed so that minimal changes were needed to the internal environment, reducing the amount of stress placed on the cells. This newly-developed system yielded a larger number of cells compared to conventional two-dimensional (2D) and 3D culture methods.

"Our method offers an efficient way to expand hPSCs of high quality within a shorter term," write the researchers in a paper on this work in Biomaterials. Also, because the use of the FF matrix is not limited to a specific type of culture container, production can be scaled up without loss of cell functions. "Additionally, as nanofiber matrices are advantageous for culturing other adherent cells, including hPSC-derived differentiated cells, FF matrix might be applicable to the large-scale production of differentiated functional cells for various applications," the researchers conclude.

This story is adapted from material from Kyoto University, with editorial changes made by Materials Today. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of Elsevier. Link to original source.